All through Friday evening people have been gathering in St Peters Square to wait for news of the death of Pope John Paul II. Families with children, young couples, small groups of nuns, stood watching the two brightly lit windows where the pope has appeared so often to talk to his people in the square below. Now there is a sense of sadness that they will probably never see him again at that window where he appeared just two days ago in a brave effort to address the crowds that were waiting for him below.

As the people shifted to and fro in the cold night air - and many looked as though they would be there all night - there was a tangible feeling of affection, of grief and of loss, but above all a sense of calm.

People, most of them young, sat or stood quietly in the vast square, some praying, some in tears, some just wanting to be there at a very special moment in history.

In contrast to the serenity in St Peter's Square, at the far end of the Via della Conciliazione were row upon row of satellite dishes, television spotlights, camera crews and journalists, all waiting for their cue to broadcast, all anxiously keen to be the first with the news of the popes death for their audiences worldwide.